One of the hardest things in life is to watch someone we love struggle with something we can’t fix for them. Addiction fits that bill: Ultimately, it’s up to your loved one to change their ways. But for you, this can lead to stress, confusion, and anger when you can’t figure out how to help.
Fortunately, there are ways to help your loved one. Read on to learn a little about how addiction affects those around the person with a substance use disorder, as well have find some resources that may help you navigate this tough time.
Addiction’s Impact on Family
Did you know that addiction is often referred to as a “family disease?” Although only your loved one is the one abusing drugs or alcohol, the effects from this use can touch those who are close to them. Chances are you’re feeling the fallout from their use, which could manifest as:1
- Monetary hardship from assisting your loved one with bills, legal costs, or other expenses.
- Emotional strain, because you often feel anxious, angry, embarrassed, depressed, and/or guilty.
- An unstable relationship with your loved one.
- Potential abuse or violence.
Even harder is that in some of the ways you might want to help your loved one, like calling their boss to let them know they won’t be in to work, you may be enabling their continued use because it doesn’t allow them to experiences the consequences of their drug or alcohol abuse.
Help for Family Members of Drug Addicts
It’s difficult to remember this when you’re in the thick of it, but you’re not alone in your endeavors to help your loved one recognize their substance abuse. Lean on your friends and other families—there are also numerous establishments whose main goal is to support the families of someone who abuses drugs and alcohol through this difficult time.
Oxford Treatment Center is also here for you. We’ve compiled several different guides that can give you a better understanding about what addiction is, what effective treatment can look like, and how recovery is possible. We also have information about how to talk to your loved one regarding their substance abuse.
If you believe your loved one is ready for treatment, or if you’d like more information about our options for treatment, our Admissions Navigators are waiting for you call at any time of the day. You can reach them at 662-638-0015.
Family Member Resources
Below you’ll find several helpful resources that can guide you in helping your loved one recognize their addiction. We’ve created several guides for family members on the topic of helping a loved one with a substance use disorder:
- Guide for Families
- Guide for Parents
- Guide for Spouses
- Guide for Children
- Guide for Friends
- Guide for Coworkers/Managers
As you look through these guides, you can expect to see information on topics such as:
- Identifiers of drug or alcohol abuse.
- Talking to your loved one about their substance abuse.
- Setting boundaries with your loved one.
- Options for substance abuse treatment.
- Comparisons of outpatient treatment programs with inpatient facilities.
- Options for paying for treatment.
- Recovery, and how you can support them through it.
What to Remember During This Difficult Time
As you continue to contend with your loved one’s drug or alcohol abuse, know that it is not your fault. You didn’t cause their addiction. It is not your responsibility to control or cure it.2
Substance use disorder is not something someone chooses—it’s a brain disorder. The longer someone abuses a substance like drugs or alcohol, the better chance that person compromises their ability to choose. Because of this change in brain chemistry, their drug or alcohol use can become compulsive.3
Although it’s not your job to diagnose or treat your loved one’s addiction, there are many ways you can help them deal with their substance abuse. Continue to talk to them about seeing a medical professional to discuss their substance use. Research options for treatment and present the details. Be real with them about what their substance use is doing to your family.
Encourage them to see a doctor. Provide them with details about treatment. Let them know how their drug or alcohol abuse is affecting your family.
Discussing these topics with your loved one is not easy, and you should count on your loved one potential becoming defensive and denying the substance use and/or the impact it is having on them and the people around them.
However, they always have a chance to recover, and with your help, they have a better chance of getting there.
- Daley, D.C. (2013). Family and social aspects of substance use disorders and treatment. Journal of Food and Drug Analysis, 21(4), S73-S76.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Remember the 7 Cs.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2012). Principles of drug addiction treatment, a research-based guide (third edition).